Skype for Business Audio Conferencing

I’ve been looking into Skype for Business PSTN conferencing and I am pretty amazed how much easier it is to setup. I remember one place I used to work and the whole dial-in functionality for a conference with their traditional phone provider was an unpleasant experience for me as an IT professional. These days most companies have a subscription to Office 365. This feature is absolutely fantastic for those companies but most of the time they are not aware of it. I will show you how easy it is to get this setup for your company so you could use Skype for Business for your meetings and still allow those non-skype users to dial in with a traditional phone line.

So I have created two Skype for Business “Meeting Organizers” in my Office 365 tenancy. I have named them “Bill Gates” and “Mark Zuckerberg” (Great for SEO of this site!!). So what license do they need to be able to organize Skype for Business meeting? They only need Skype for Business Plan 1 or Plan 2. What if they need PSTN conferencing? They will need an “Audio Conferencing” license as well. I believe the name of this license might vary according to the country of your tenancy. This might be called “PSTN Conferencing” as well in some other countries but in New Zealand we see it as “Audio Conferencing”.

Let’s start configuring things in Skype for Business Admin Center. Go to “audio conferencing” and then check “Microsoft bridge” tab. As soon as you have added a license that gives you the capabilities of Skype for Business Plan 2 into your tenancy, you will start seeing this tab populated with many service numbers. I already have a dedicated number setup in Wellington, New Zealand:

Skype for Business admin center - Service Numbers
Service Numbers in Skype for Business admin center

Let’s see how we can add a new Service Number. Service numbers can be used by external parties to dial-in to join a Skype for Business meeting. Go to “voice” and then under “phone numbers” click the + sign and choose “NEW SERVICE NUMBER”:

Adding a new service number in Skype for Business admin center
Adding a new service number in Skype for Business admin center

Then select the Country/Region and City in New Zealand. Also you need to put the Quantity you need. I will put 2 for two new meeting organizers Bill and Mark.

Add new service number in Skype for Business admin center
Add new service number in Skype for Business admin center

Once you have added the numbers, you need to acquire them by clicking on “acquire numbers”:

Acquiring the new service numbers in Skype for Business admin center
Acquiring the new service numbers in Skype for Business admin center

Now you can see the two new numbers you acquired under “phone numbers”. They should say “Activated” under “Number Status” and “Unassigned” in “Assigned” column:

Skype for Business - Unassigned numbers
Skype for Business – Unassigned numbers

Go to “audio conferencing” and “users” tab. You should see that Bill and Mark are already assigned with the default dedicated service number:

Audio Conferencing users with their default numbers
Audio Conferencing users with their default numbers

Now let’s assign the new numbers to our meeting organizers. Go back to “voice” and “phone numbers”. Select the unassigned number and click on “Assign”:

Assign an unassigned phone number in Skype for Business
Assign an unassigned phone number in Skype for Business

In the next page, simply click on “Save” and the number now will be assigned as a Conference Bridge:

Saving the number to be assigned as a conference bridge
Saving the number to be assigned as a conference bridge

Now we will do the same for the other number so we have two new conferencing bridge numbers:

New Conference Bridge Numbers in Skype for Business
New Conference Bridge Numbers in Skype for Business

Let’s go to “audio conferencing” and “Microsoft Bridge” tab to make sure these numbers now show up. You might need to refresh the page if you don’t see them:

Available Microsoft Bridge Numbers in audio conferencing
Available Microsoft Bridge Numbers in audio conferencing

Now go to users tab in audio conferencing and then select Bill and click on Edit pencil icon to assign one of those two numbers. This will bring you straight to the audio conferencing property of the user account and select the new number you want assigned under “Default toll number” and click Save:

Changing the default toll number for audio conferencing for a user
Changing the default toll number for audio conferencing for a user

Now I have done the same steps for Mark and assigned him a new Dial-in number as well. So when you go to users under audio conferencing, you should see both Mark and Bill with their own dedicated toll numbers assigned:

Checking the new unique dial-in numbers assigned to your audio conferencing enabled users
Checking the new unique dial-in numbers assigned to your audio conferencing enabled users

This is it! You are now all done and can start making new meetings that attendees can join via their traditional phone lines.

When you create a Skype for Business Meeting Request from Outlook, you can see your dedicated conferencing number assigned like this:

Skype for Business Meeting Request in Outlook
Skype for Business Meeting Request in Outlook

Tips

  • Have generic accounts for each office or meeting rooms so you only need to buy “audio conferencing” licenses for those accounts and users can be delegated to use those accounts when they need to have a Skype meeting.
  • If you want the capability so that Microsoft can dial your attendee first, then you need to buy “Communications Credit” license which will require you to setup a credit card in the tenancy if you have not already done this. This will add $30 credit to your tenancy and top it up using your credit card as the credit runs out.

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